Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: Islam’s Gifts: The Foundation of Renaissance (Part 6)

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Agriculture

Muslim scientists provided detailed accounts of the flora.  At the end of the 12th century, Al Awwam described 585 plants and explained the cultivation of several fruits.  Some scientists studied plants in their travelogues like Abul Abbass Al Nabati.

Muslims introduced their crops to Spain and then to Europe and the Americas. Such crops included the sugarcane, rice, oranges, lemons, aubergines, artichokes, apricots, and cotton. European languages still use the Arabic words for most of these products.

Muslims developed prosperous agriculture where arable land was available. They certainly improved farming in Spain, introduced conservation and irrigation methods, and water allocation. For example, evidence   of Muslim legacy is found in  the large number of Spanish words pertaining to irrigation techniques which have been derived from Arabic, for example: acequia, irrigation ditch; alberca, articial pool; aljibe, cistern; noria, alqantara, irrigating wheel or draw well; arcaduz, water conduit or bucket; azuda, Persian wheel; almatriche, canal; alcantarilla, bridge, sewer; atarjea, small drain; atanor, water pipe; alcorque, hollow round the base of a tree to hold water, etc.  The actual forms of wheels still used in Spain were invented in the Middle East where they are found today.

Muslims further improved irrigation methods, used organic fertilizers and improved cattle breeding. In Muslim Spain, artificial ponds and lakes through damming techniques for irrigation and to raise fish were commonplace. Natural resources of Spain, such as metals, were exploited. These include iron, copper, mercury, gold, and precious and semi-precious stones were sought and collected.

(…to be continued in the next e-newsletter – part 7)

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